Mojave Max, the desert tortoise, emerged from his winter burrow in a Las Vegas nature preserve this week. His appearance mirrors the lore behind the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania, who marks whether it’s the start of spring or not.

Mojave Max first appeared above ground at 3:40 p.m. Monday at the Springs Preserve, and this year’s Mojave Max appearance “marked the latest date since an annual watch contest began in 2000,” The Associated Press reported.

The earliest Mojave Max had come out of brumation, or the reptile’s period of winter rest, was Feb. 14, 2005, and before this year, the latest record had been April 17, 2012, per AP.

Why did Mojave Max emerge from his burrow so late this year?

Some of the aspects that contribute to when Max shows up for the party include “warmer temperatures, longer daylight hours and his own internal clock,” NBC affiliate KSNV reported.

“It’s taken longer for the soil in the burrow to warm,” preserve spokesperson Tom Bradley Jr. told AP. “Once it finally warmed up, Max came out.”

What is the Mojave Max contest?

Students in the Las Vegas Valley submit guesses of when Max will come out of the burrow for the annual Mojave Max contest. Winners of the contest “can win prizes like a pizza party, a field trip and a yearlong membership to Springs Preserve,” according to Fox affiliate KVVU.

“As Max wakes up, we’re excited to continue educating local school children how to respect, protect and enjoy our desert,” Kimberley Jenkins, principal environmental specialist with Clark Country’s Deseret Conservation Program, said, per a Clark County release.